Armada Smokescreen - Comprised primarily of suck?

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Armada Smokescreen - Comprised primarily of suck?

Postby onslaught86 » Wed Jul 30, 2008 1:57 am

Mmkay, so. Today I received one of the last Armada moulds I lacked. And I counted its place amongst my collection anyway, since I already own Liftor on his lonesome. Yes, I speak of the jolly orange dwarf himself, Armada Smokescreen.

Armada is a lot better in retrospect than it was at the time. While the designs are solid on paper, and the detailing is fantastic, much of the engineering falls flat in practice. The toys were intentionally simple to transform after the complexity of the Japanese Car Robots designs proved too challenging for the average tyke. This left more room for gimmicking and the like, to be sure. Sometimes it worked (Megatron), sometimes it didn't (Scavenger).

Smokescreen is a toy almost universally despised - I believe Prowl was the notable exception, heh. Character is remembered mostly for his rather brutal death at Megatron's hands in the cartoon, and his ridiculously cheap resurrection in the following episode. Opinion seemed to be that the package was only worth getting for Liftor. True enough, Liftor's pretty neat, though I found his alt. mode lame. Missed a few dirt cheap auctions for Smokescreens in times past, so when the most recent one popped up, by gum, I had to have him. Why? Well, just to see for myself.. I do masquerade as a completist by day, after all.

So! What's he like? Well, I have to admit, he is pretty weak. Vehicle mode is the most bizarre combo of a crane truck and some kind of sports car, it really doesn't look a lot like a construction vehicle. The transformation is not satisfying, and the soft slider joints annoy me. Detailing's nice, as is the enormous gun. I especially dig the winch gimmick, which has a slider switch to retract the line when rolling him along, or to have the wheels simply spin. That and the pointless flippy hatch. Why does it open? No reason at all!
Articulation's poor, fists are covered and look terrible, colour is eye-searing and detail-swallowing, and he doesn't feel as solid as he should in either mode. Doesn't help that mine has a busted neck gimmick, so his head doesn't turn when you rotate the crane, as I was looking forward to that. Opening him up did impress at the complexity of the winch, so there's that. No heel spurs, argh, unstable as can be.

Still, more than anything else, I've gotten a good chuckle out of him. He can sort of hold the winch if you stick it in the screwholes on his forearms, and more than anything else, it looks like he's holding a detonator. A detonater with a cable leading to his chest. Yes, it's Suicide Bomber Smokescreen!
With that in mind, I'm almost fond of the thing,

Oh, Armada, such grand aspirations.
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Re: Armada Smokescreen - Comprised primarily of suck?

Postby BWprowl » Wed Jul 30, 2008 3:02 am

Yeah, it's true: I actually like Armada Smokescreen. I actually like the transformation (It's like Hot Shot, but less clever the second time around!), I actually like the engineering choices (His arm-extension sliders double as ridiculously limited elbows!), and I actually like the legs, which are limited in movement and unstable because of their round backs. Okay, honestly, none of that is ACTUALLY why I like him, but I really do like him. No idea why, either. The gimmicks are pretty sweet, and I, for one, think his vehicle mode looks really cool, whatever the hell it's supposed to be. I dunno, maybe it's because he's probably the only Grapple homage we're ever going to get, and Cod knows I'm a sucker for obscure homages. The point is, Smokescreen has SOME charm that makes me love him unconditionally, and one day I'll unlock it's secrets and share them with the world.

Yours has busted neck gearing? That sucks! That was like, my third-favorite thing about the toy!
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Re: Armada Smokescreen - Comprised primarily of suck?

Postby 138 Scourge » Wed Jul 30, 2008 3:25 am

BWprowl wrote: I dunno, maybe it's because he's probably the only Grapple homage we're ever going to get, and Cod knows I'm a sucker for obscure homages.


But...Voyager Inferno? You don't think there's gonna be a Grapple repaint/retool?

Also, TRU movie Mudflap's got a strong Grapple kinda thing going. Well, in that he's a yellow crane, but that's really about what Smokey's got going for that, too.
Dominic wrote: too many people likely would have enjoyed it as....well a house-elf gang-bang.
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Re: Armada Smokescreen - Comprised primarily of suck?

Postby onslaught86 » Wed Jul 30, 2008 3:29 am

Yeah, tried taking him apart to fix it, no-go. It's caused by the boom's swivel not turning the inner gear. Shame.

Hey, he does have Hot Shot's transformation..and yes, Hot Shot does it better. Of course, I actually like Hot Shot, but I got Micron Legend Hot Rod, and he'll burn our your eyes with his laser hand.

Don't neglect Energon Roadblock, though, he's a legit Grapple homage.
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Re: Armada Smokescreen - Comprised primarily of suck?

Postby andersonh1 » Wed Jul 30, 2008 5:43 am

I like Armada Smokescreen as well. It's a simple, fairly chunky early Armada figure with several weaknesses, but it has an appeal regardless. I actually prefer Smokescreen to Hot Shot in a number of ways, not the least of which is the fact that he actually has shoulders that move in multiple directions.

Impromptu review time:

Vehicle mode: an oddly-shaped crane, which is nonetheless recognizable as a construction vehicle. All the bot parts are well-concealed, apart from the head which is far too obvious on the back of the vehicle. And any attempt to turn the crane boom causes the head to turn as well, making the disguise hard to maintain. But on a basic level, I like the almost aerodynamic look of the vehicle (aerodynamic for a construction crane anyway :lol: ). The opening hatch is a nice detail that doesn't have to be there, but was included anyway. The winch and hook are a nice extra touch, adding some play value to the vehicle.

Transformation: nice and simple. I love the complexity of the Alternators or the RID car brothers, but I also enjoy a nice simple transformation as well. Variety is good. ;)

Robot mode: At first I didn't think this thing would stand up with the crane boom on one shoulder, but it does balance fairly well. This mode has plenty of character, which is one of the reasons I like it. Everything about him says short, stocky and tough. The face adds to that impression. Smokescreen could certainly use some elbow and knee joints, but given the need to keep him balanced, he may work better without them. The rounded heels are a problem. The over-large fists trapped behind vehicle panels also detract a bit from this mode.

mini-con gimmick: nothing too fancy. The cannon that folds out of the boom is impressively large for a figure of this size. In vehicle mode, it means Smokescreen can double as a mobile long-range gun emplacement. In robot mode, it means he can't turn around indoors without hitting the walls. It's about as basic as mini-con activated gimmicks come, but it's a solid addition to the figure's play options. Smokescreen can be a close range brawler with his thick physique, or a long range artillery bot.

Liftor: very nice detailed for a figure this small. A forklift is a rare alt mode for any Transformer, so points for something new. He's also more articulated than his larger counterpart, which is somewhat ironic.
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Re: Armada Smokescreen - Comprised primarily of suck?

Postby Dominic » Wed Jul 30, 2008 9:41 am

Count me as liking Smokescreen, and Liftor. Smokescreen is not my favorite toy, but I like it well enough despite that god awful death episode.

Liftor is one of my favorite Minicons.


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Re: Armada Smokescreen - Comprised primarily of suck?

Postby CrossRook » Wed Jul 30, 2008 10:50 am

Dominic wrote:Count me as liking Smokescreen, and Liftor. Smokescreen is not my favorite toy, but I like it well enough despite that god awful death episode.

Liftor is one of my favorite Minicons.


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Liftor is mico pirate Prime.
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Re: Armada Smokescreen - Comprised primarily of suck?

Postby Gomess » Wed Jul 30, 2008 1:50 pm

...Are my eyes deceiving me, or has Dave van Domelen registered here?
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Re: Armada Smokescreen - Comprised primarily of suck?

Postby andersonh1 » Wed Jul 30, 2008 3:08 pm

That does appear to be the case. Which is cool, because that means there's someone older than me around here. :mrgreen:
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Re: Armada Smokescreen - Comprised primarily of suck?

Postby Gomess » Wed Jul 30, 2008 5:56 pm

Wait wait, Dom ISN'T the oldest guy here??

I mean, I know I'm a decade too old for toys, but geez. =p
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